Trinidad Loop was the Great Northern's answer to the sudden drop in elevation between Quincy and the Columbia River 700 feet below. The Columbia is the lowest point between Spokane and the summit of the Cascades. To reduce the severity of the grade, GN's engineers routed the railroad away from the river and up Lynch Coulee until it looped around on itself. From here, a 1% descent to the Columbia continues to the crossing at Rock Island, where a slight ascending grade works its way along the river bank to Wenatchee.

 

Today, the Trinidad Loop is operated by the BNSF Railway as part of its Columbia River Subdivision. The Scenic Sub takes over at Wenatchee and contains the Cascade crossing with an 8-mile summit tunnel before beginning its descent into Seattle.

Traffic traversing the Loop is primarily intermodal and priority trains, but the "Spud Local" from Wenatchee to Quincy makes a regular appearance.

Westbound auto racks about to clear the last of the cuts before swinging around the loop.

09:35, April 20, 2007

Same westbound has rounded the loop and descends the far leg while the remainder of its train still passes through the cut immediately below.

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Copyright 2007 David J. Cooley

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